Plato, Descartes and The Matrix.
1. Compare and contrast The Matrix with the readings from Plato and Descartes. What are some similarities and differences?
While reading through each stories as well as re watching the Matrix, I found that there are more similarities between the illusion of what reality consists of. In The Matrix, the main character Neo also referred to in the movie as “The One”, figures out that the world that he thought he was living in, is really being controlled by computers. Neo is struggling to adapt to life after because he thought the entire world was an illusion that people took of normal living situations. Comparing the Matrix to the Allegory of the Cave, or Plato’s cave, the characters in this story had no idea what reality was, making it an illusion as well, just like people who are living in the Matrix film. In the Cave, human beings are living in an underground area, and have been trapped there since childhood and are chained so they cannot move. Also, the movie tends to compare what Descartes believes in, which is the beliefs and perceptions of a person’s mind. Another one of the comparisons between the movie and the readings is the question of what is life…an illusion or is it really real/reality? In the Matrix, people are living in pods in fields, which they do not know until they are told. Neo refuses to accept the existence of what the Matrix, which is a lot like the prisoners in The Cave since they did not know any better. Both were unaware of the life that existed outside of their pods/fields. Plato felt that if people knew what the truth was, then everything would be great. However, that was not the case. All the characters refused to accept the truth no matter what. They refused to accept the truth fearful of the pain of how their life would be if they came to accept the fact that they were basically just puppets in a show. Everything they have come to know, would be totally different, just like the characters in the Matrix. There are a few differences involving the Matrix and The Cave. In the movie, Neo is freed by a group of people who are trying to harm the Matrix, and the prisoners in the cave are attempting to comprehend being set free and moving on with their own life.
2. Can we prove that the world we are experiencing is real? How do we know we are not dreaming, living in a Platonic cave, or trapped in some sort of matrix?
In today’s society, technology is literally all over, and is taking over the world. With this question, I feel as it’s a personal one and that it can be taken into 2 different aspects; spiritual, or technology/human standpoint. Looking at this from a spiritual standpoint, I believe that God created everyone as well as the Earth that we walk and live on., Descartes was a firm believer in God and that everything we do is for a higher power. He believes that God can provide us with the knowledge and strength as well as the senses and will power that we cannot get from anyone else but God himself. Descartes says in the Meditations that “Nevertheless, the belief that there is a God who is all powerful, and who created me, such as I am, has, for a long time, obtained steady possession of my mind. How, then, do I know that he has not arranged that there should be neither earth, nor sky, nor any extended thing, nor figure, nor magnitude, nor place, providing at the same time, however, for the rise in me of the perceptions of all these objects”. (Descartes, 1641.) From a “human/technology” standpoint, with all the recent advancements with technology one might truly think that we are all puppets in this world just like The Matrix, or another movie called “The Truman Show”. In the Truman Show, the main character discovers his life is actually a television show being watched by people all over the world and has to adjust to it, just like the Matrix. In conclusion, I agree with Descartes that we are all from God in a certain way and that God only knows if this place we live in, is reality or not. I believe that the Bible is a perfect example that we are able to rely on our instincts of reality and the senses that come along with it. We can prove that we are not trapped in a cave, but that we are truly living the best life we possibly can. The Bible verse that sticks out to me when thinking of reality is Romans 1:20 that states ” For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (NIV)
Descartes, R. (1641). “MEDITATION I OF THE THINGS OF WHICH WE MAY DOUBT: Meditations on First Philosophy.
The Holy Bible, New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan House, 1984. Print.